Blogging again from San Antonio...
We've got a lively discussion going on the blog about the idea of United touching down in Jefferson City, MO as it flies between Springfiled-Branson and Chicago O'Hare. Jeffcitylocal blogs these thoughts:
"The United Airlines flight between Springfield and Chicago that is operated by SkyWest flies right over the Jefferson City area. I would like to know if you think it is possible to create an en-route stop at the Jefferson City Airport? Currently the airport is not certified as a commercial airport and would only need a few upgrades if at all to handle commercial traffic since years ago it was served by a commercial carrier. Having 2-3 arrivals and 2-3 departures would I think is very practical to serve Jefferson City, the Lake Area, Columbia, other communities along the highways 50, 54, and 63 that all interchange next to the Jefferson City Airport . Would you mention this idea to some officials at the Springfield Airport and SkyWest to see if this can happen?" Greg doesn't like this idea at all and responds, in part: "Not trying to sound rude here, but we have few enough flights as it is and I hate having to change planes. I would have zero interest in having to stop in Jeff City en route. On top of that I doubt the airline would want to foot the bill for the extra cost to land and take off from Jeff City.
Jeffcitylocal...I understand where you're coming from. Essential Air Service is close to blowing the coup in Columbia and every other EAS market in the state. And I don't want to rain on your parade, however... There's not a snow ball's chance that United will drop by MidMo on its way from Springfield-Branson to Chicago.
Greg mentioned one of the reasons: extra cost. Stopping in Jefferson City would burn a lot more fuel. With oil hovering around a hundred bucks a barrel, all the airlines burn as little fuel as possible. Here are some more reasons: 1) Your proximity to STL Lambert, KC International and the Springfield airport. From the airline's perspective, you just need to drive to one of those airports. 2) We (the Springfield airport) estimate average United load factors (percentage of sold seats) on the Springfield-Chicago route at more than 70 percent. That's on both 50 and 70 seat regional jets. I'd guess that the airline would have to charge hefty MidMo fares to make a Jeff City drop by worth its while. It would certainly be a lot more than the subsidized EAS fares out of Columbia. Would you be willing to pay them? 3) Stopping in MidMo would mandate bumping the arrival slots at O'Hare at least an hour later. Other United slots would have be be juggled to accommodate. That's not an easy thing to do at one of the most congested airports in the country.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I hope some of you can chuckle with me when you note the differences in how jeffcitylocal and Greg perceive the Springfield air market. People in MidMo would kill for our service. For Greg, Springfield "has few enough flights as it is." That's my lot in life...I can't please anybody!